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before referring a gifted child for adhd evaluation

before referring a gifted child for adhd evaluation

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Published by Cyndi Whitmore

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Published by: Cyndi Whitmore on Nov 08, 2009
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08/16/2014

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Before Referring a Gifted Child for ADD/ADHD Evaluation

Lind, S.
The Communicator
California Association for the Gifted
Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 20
Fall 2000

This article by Sharon Lind explains that highly gifted children are easily misdiagnosed as having attention deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD). Lind provides a valuable checklist of behaviors and charachteristics for educators to use before referring a student for testing. The checklist is designed to differentiate between confusing factors.

Parents and gifted educators are asked with increased frequency to instruct gifted children to conform to a set of
societal standards of acceptable behavior and achievement-to smooth the edges of the square peg in order to fit
into a "normal" hole. Spontaneity, inquisitiveness, imagination, boundless enthusiasm, and emotionality are being
discouraged to create calmer, quieter, more controlled environments in school. An extension of this trend is
reflected in an increase in referrals for medical evaluation of gifted children as ADD/ ADHD (Attention Deficit
Disorder/ Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). There is no doubt that gifted children can be ADD/ ADHD.
However, there are also gifted children whose "inappropriate behavior" may be a result of being highly gifted
and/or intense.

This intensity coupled with classroom environments and curriculum, which do not meet needs of gifted, divergent, creative, or random learners, may lead to the mislabeling of many children as ADHD. To avoid mislabeling gifted children, parents and educators may want to complete the following check list to help them decide to refer for medical or psychological evaluation.

If, after addressing these questions, parents and teachers believe that it is not an unsuitable, inflexible, or
unreceptive educational environment which is causing the child to "misbehave" or "tune out," or if the child feels
out of control, then it is most certainly appropriate to refer a gifted child for ADD/ADHD diagnosis. Premature
referral bypasses the educational system and takes control away from students, parents and educators. By
referring before trying to adjust the educational environment and curriculum, educators appear to be denouncing
the positive attributes of giftedness and/or to be blaming the victim of an inappropriate educational system.

When deciding to refer, parents should search for a competent diagnostician who has experience with both
giftedness and attention deficit disorders. It is never appropriate for teachers, parents or pediatricians to label a
child as ADD or ADHD without comprehensive clinical evaluation that can distinguish ADD/ ADHD from look-alikes
with other causes.

GIFTED?
Need More
Information
ADD/ADHD?
gfedc Contact with intellectual peers
diminishes inappropriate behavior
gfedc
gfedc Contact with intellectual peers has no
positive effect on behavior
gfedc Appropriate academic placement
diminishes inappropriate behavior
gfedc
gfedc Appropriate academic placement has no
positive effect on behavior
gfedc Curricular modifications diminish
inappropriate behaviors
gfedc
gfedc Curricular modifications have no effect
on behavior
gfedc The child has logical (to the child)
explanations for inappropriate behavior
gfedc
gfedc Child cannot explain inappropriate
behavior
gfedc When active, child enjoys the movement
and does not feel out of control
gfedc
gfedc Child feels out of control
gfedc Learning appropriate social skills had
decreased "impulsive" or inappropriate
behavior
gfedc
gfedc Learning appropriate social skill has not
decreased "impulsive" or inappropriate
behavior
gfedc Child has logical (to the child)
explanations why tasks, activities are not
completed
gfedc
gfedc Child is unable to explain why tasks,
activities are not completed
gfedc Child displays fewer inappropriate
behaviors when interested in subject
matter or project
gfedc
gfedc Child's behaviors not influenced by
his/her interest in the activity
gfedc Child displays fewer inappropriate
behaviors when subjuect matter or project
seems relevant or meaningful to the child
gfedc
gfedc Child's behaviors do not diminish when
subject matter or project seems relevant or
meaningful to the child
gfedc Child attributes excessive talking or

interruptions or need to share information,
need to show that he/she knows the
answer, or need to solve a problem
immediately

gfedc
gfedc Child cannot attribute excessive talking
or interruptions to a need to learn or share
information
gfedc Child who seems inattentive can repeat
instructions
gfedc
gfedc Child who seems inattecitve is unable to
repeat instructions
gfedc Child thrives on working on multiple
tasks-- gets more done, enjoys learning
more
gfedc
gfedc Child moves from task to task for no
apparent reason
Page 1 of 2
Before Referring a Gifted Child for ADD/ADHD Evaluation
11/7/2009
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